The Boys and Men in Drake’s Life Collide in the ‘Worst Behavior’ Video
Drake’s father is Dennis Graham, a journeyman Memphis drummer known for his work with Jerry Lee Lewis. His adoptive uncle is Teenie Hodges, the legendarily silky Memphis rhythm guitarist. His other adoptive uncle was the late Willie Mitchell, the paterfamilias of Hi Records, the Memphis label that released knuckle-cracking love songs by Al Green, Syl Johnson, and Ann Peebles. This trio — not Canadian, not soft-hearted, definitely not OVO — represent Drake’s secret history. Though raised by his mother in Toronto and burdened by the familiar father issues created by a broken home, Drake clings tightly to this side of his family’s story, in the American South. Wouldn’t you? It’s the soul, the history, the consequence. Toronto is for partying and pretty boys; Memphis is for music, integrity, reality, and men.
In the video for “Worst Behavior” the two Drakes collide. At the outset, we see Mitchell’s Royal Studios in Memphis, a corroded den of creativity — this is where “Love and Happiness” was recorded. In a flash, “Worst Behavior” begins and Graham — Drake’s dad! — is outfitted in full white suit and tiepin regalia, flanked by creamy pink limousines and flamingo-suited acolytes. And he is rapping along to every word of “Worst Behavior.” (I can’t even get my dad to read this blog post.) Then we’re outside of a dilapidated home and Impalas on chrome and Director X’s fast-recorded slow-motion images of Drake rapping. This is good Drake — self-serious, faux-tough, but gentle enough to caress a toddler mid-verse. Then it all comes apart.
Drake’s Boys are one of the rapper’s weaknesses. Allowances will always be made for “crew life.” But Drake tends to abuse the privilege, like interrupting this wonderful video just as it’s gaining momentum so his two pals, Ryan and OB, can make fools of themselves for three minutes in front of two more Memphis luminaries, Juicy J and Project Pat. The skit proceeds, OB wears an owl costume, the jokes fail; then the video begins again, a beautiful, slow-moving portrait of a special city. Why did this half-conceived sketch happen? Perhaps their appearances in the “H.Y.F.R.” and “Started From the Bottom” (Mom got a look in that one) videos were not enough. It doesn’t matter. We know one thing about Drake: He is loyal. To a city that is not his own. To a father who left him behind. To his knucklehead friends. To terrible music video pacing.